Displaced by Hurricane Katrina, a designer returns to Mississippi to breathe new life into a historic home.
When Coastal Living first spoke with designer Becki Abercrombie in our July/August 2006 issue, one year after Hurricane Katrina, she had these
parting words to share: “We will return! We won’t abandon the coast we’ve come to love. We’ll work to bring back Bay St. Louis.
And when the lines form again at restaurants and the roar of cicadas fills warm summer nights once more, we’ll be there.”
Because her former residence had been completely leveled by the hurricane, Abercrombie went looking for a new place, promptly
falling in love with a badly damaged early 1900s bungalow. For nine months, she toiled feverishly to transform the home, crafting
an open floor plan and installing sparkling new floors, high ceilings, and a hard-working kitchen built to accommodate dinners
for her large family. Here, Abercrombie’s lessons for giving a home a second chance.
Get the look: The coffee table is from Urban Market. The sofa and upholstered chair are by Hickory Chair.
Each day at the bungalow begins and ends on the screened porch. To outfit the space, Abercrombie worked with her sister, Ginger,
and daughter Jane, a New York—based interior designer, to scour flea markets for the perfect pieces. She then turned to daughter-in-law
Sara, a decorative painter in Baton Rouge, to refinish the finds. “It was a collaborative effort,” Abercrombie says. “Everyone
had a part to play.”
Get the look: The sofa is from Crate & Barrel. The rocking chairs are from L.L.Bean. The chandelier and wicker chairs are by Maine Cottage. The striped pillows are from Pine Cone Hill. The rug is from World Market.
Abercrombie designed an extra-large kitchen to accommodate multiple chefs at once. An oversize island provides ample surface
area for prepping and cleanup, while a butler’s pantry off the kitchen holds an oft-frequented ice maker and refrigerator
for beverages, so as not to disturb the work flow.
Get the look: The hood and oven are from Dacor. The dishwasher is from KitchenAid. The woven pendant is from West Elm. The stool is from Target. The faucet is from Grohe. The rug is from Merida.
The dining room exemplifies Abercrombie’s perseverance: The hutch is full of her husband’s aunt’s dinnerware, which she recovered
from her previous home after Hurricane Katrina. Everything else in the space is a family heirloom, an antique, or purchased
from local consignment shops. “I shopped vintage a lot,” says Abercrombie. “I wanted the house to look like it had been here
for a while; I didn’t want to buy all new furniture.”
Get the look: The hutch is from British Traditions. The cushion fabric is Exchequer from Brunschwig & Fils. The table is from Patina Interiors; 985/892-3733. The chairs are from Scott Antique Markets.
Throughout the year, relatives come to visit in droves, so Abercrombie ensured there would be plenty of space for everyone,
outfitting a large bunk room with twin-size beds for the kids. Extra sleeping quarters are up the stairs in the loft area,
the object of many an amicable debate. “The kids all fight about who gets to sleep there,” she says with a laugh.
Get the look: The quilts and pillows are from Pottery Barn. The sheets are from Traditions Linens. The flag garland is from World Market. The ceiling fans are from Lowe’s.
According to many members of the family, the porch swing is the best seat in the house. “You can't have a cottage without
a porch swing,” Abercrombie says. “Ours overlooks the garden and a banana tree and gets the best ocean breezes. We have coffee
out there every morning.”
Get the look: The custom porch swing is by McDonald & Sons; 228/467-5442. The rattan chairs are from World Market.